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Surge in public concern over child neglect

Action for Children calls for a national strategy to counter neglect

More than a third (34%) of UK adults surveyed by Action for Children said that they were very or quite worried about the welfare or safety of a child in their neighbourhood,. This is an eight percent increase compared to last year, when 26% said this was the case. While 67% said members of the public should become involved when they have concerns about a neglected child, nearly half3 said they needed more information about sources of assistance and advice about their worries.

The charity also surveyed 2,500 children, with one third saying they have been very or quite worried about whether another child is being looked after properly at home. This is a slight increase on last year, when 29 per cent5 said they had these concerns.

Action for Children is calling for a national strategy on child neglect that includes a public awareness campaign containing clear, concise information about where children and adults can seek advice and report their fears.

Nearly half of children also said they needed more information about where to go with their worries.

Action for Children chief executive Sir Tony Hawkhead said:

"Friends, neighbours, the owner of a local corner shop – these individuals within a community can be crucial to a child's safety by acting on their concerns.

"While our figures suggest an encouraging  increase in public awareness of child neglect, it is a scandal that people simply don't know what to do when they think a child is not being cared for or where to go to raise the alarm that a child in their street may be in serious danger.

"Neglect is our biggest problem, the number one reason for child protection referrals to social services, but there is no vision to tackle it. To protect more children, we need a national strategy to command political and public support for change: only this commitment from Government will truly change children's lives."

The survey also found that:

Action for Children notes that neglect features in 60% of serious case reviews into the death or serious injury of a child.